What Does Humanizing Technology Mean?

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humanizing technology

Users demand the highest level of convenience and simplicity when interacting with technology, however creating that experience can be challenging.

Today, most successful organizations deliver value to their users through software. Consider big brand names like Starbucks or Chipotle, Nordstrom or The Home Depot, Chase or Citi; these organizations are typically classified by their industries – quick service restaurants, retailers, or financial services. However, these organizations also have excellent software applications that are easy to use, deliver value, blend into our everyday life, and create exceptional experiences that we as customers love.

Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace we can accomplish things our parents and grandparents never even dreamed of. Modern organizations like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, and others are harnessing this digital revolution, rapidly innovating and quickly releasing features their users want or need. Yet many organizations are still stuck in their traditional processes and struggling to keep pace by knowing what to do or how to do it.

Make no mistake, it’s no simple task to change an organization’s approach to developing or implementing technology. But it’s a necessary change as organizations become industry agnostic and deliver value to their customers via software.

So, how can you create these expectational experiences?

The Amazon Experience

Up until the last couple of decades, most executives viewed their organizations as competing in a particular industry. However, with the proliferation of technology, that has changed and continues to evolve, whereas all brands are now competing against each other no matter the industry or size. This is due to one factor, the customer or rather, the user’s experience.

What I am about to say is cliché, but also very true: everyone, big brand or Mom and Pop shop is chasing Amazon’s simplistic user experience. Is it easy for me to interact with your brand to achieve my desired outcome? This one simple question has fueled the idea that organizations are progressively becoming more industry agnostic.

In addition to trying to create these “Amazon” like experiences, they are also chasing how these organizations operate to create these experiences. Businesses must adapt quickly to react to users’ wants because users have options. And if you fail to meet their needs then one of your competitors will.

Injecting Technology

Technology penetrates nearly every corner of every organization regardless of industry, size, or operating model. More of your competitors are delivering value through technology to their users by creating and releasing software products at an expeditious pace. This creates a demand for the executive leadership within your organization to modify their mindset and become hyper user-centric and swiftly apply lessons learned from users into the products you are offering to increase customer lifetime value.

The fact is our society is becoming more and more impatient. Surveys suggest that technology is creating this sentiment and in turn driving our needs for immediacy, and that immediacy is driving the need for businesses to react quickly to user feedback. Why should they wait for you when someone else is prepared to meet their needs now?

With that in mind, is your technology architecture built to support your organization’s ability to quickly respond to user feedback? Or are you expecting your users to wait several months before you address their wants and needs?

Your business must stand out with technology that makes the user experience better, easier, and more adaptable. That means reducing complexity to quickly address user feedback.

You have to make your product feel like a natural extension of what your users are already doing.

Listen To The Users

Not all organizations are positioned or organized to get insightful feedback from their users. To shift yourself and your organization into a user-centric mindset, you can’t rely on the archaic output methodologies of traditional operating models where the business provides requirements to the “IT department” without providing context for what they are building or what problem they are solving for. Your product and engineering teams must speak the same language, collaborate and determine if your organization is…

  • Interacting with customers about the future of what your product will do & how they will benefit them?
  • Monitoring if new features or products being released are being used as intended and if they are driving engagement?
  • Identifying customer problems and pain points and solving them?

To know what your users need, your teams must be in tune with them, and gathering their feedback is a big part of that. Your next step to moving away from producing features for features’ sake, is to double down on user feedback by selecting new ideas and concepts to experiment with and test with your loyal user base and learn what they like and don’t.

This is a process that is constant, always ongoing, never done. It’s dynamic, not static. Luckily, your users will let you know what they want if you take the time to listen. However, this requires that you read between the tea leaves of the qualitative and quantitative data to decipher what ideas to prioritize and determine what is going to add the most value to your user.

Experiment With Product Updates

Before you completely build out that product or release every new feature to every user, you should test them out by segmenting users into groups and launching your features with intention.

This will enable you to gather more feedback from each segment once they’ve had a chance to become familiar with the new changes.

Think back to the last time you had a delightful experience. What keeps you going back to that brand time after time? Maybe it’s the ability to order using only one click, offering which shows you should binge on next, get a ride with the click of a few buttons or the ability to have all of your information at your fingertips. After all, don’t you wish every interaction could be that easy.

Putting the ‘Human’ In Technology

It’s easy to get so caught up in a race to release new features with new technology that can differentiate us from our competitors that we lose sight of the user. It’s important to take a step back, and start with the end in mind:

  • Who is the user?
  • What would they want?
  • What experience do they want to have?
  • What is the problem they are trying to solve?
  • What is their goal?
  • What is the simplest way to achieve their goal?

To answer these questions, you must get out from behind the four walls of your organization and talk to users about your products, getting first-hand insight into their experiences and pain points. Through taking a user-centric approach to product strategy, execution, & development you can enrich your users’ lives by Humanizing Technology.

As your mindset starts to shift by placing users at the center of your business, you will begin to see increased growth, see better return on technology investments and even possibly discover new business models that otherwise would have never existed.

The good news is you don’t have to tackle this shift on your own. We have led many companies through this same transformation. At Headstorm, humanizing technology is what we do; it’s part of our DNA. We are humans, creating technology for, well, other humans. We work hard to create software with purpose, so the user doesn’t even notice the ‘technology’ is even there.

How do we do this?

This is the first part of a series that will cover this and other concepts in more detail. In the meantime, reach out; we’d love to speak one-on-one, human to human, about your business and hear about your users.